56th Academy Awards

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56th Academy Awards
Official poster promoting the 56th Academy Awards in 1984
Official poster
DateApril 9, 1984
SiteDorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles
Hosted byJohnny Carson
Produced byJack Haley Jr.
Directed byMarty Pasetta
Best PictureTerms of Endearment
Most awardsTerms of Endearment (5)
Most nominationsTerms of Endearment (11)
TV in the United States
Duration3 hours, 45 minutes[1]
Ratings42.1 million
30.3% (Nielsen ratings)

The 56th Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), honored the best films of 1983 and took place on April 9, 1984, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, beginning at 6:00 p.m. PST / 9:00 p.m. EST. During the ceremony, AMPAS presented Academy Awards (commonly referred to as Oscars) in 22 categories. The ceremony, televised in the United States by ABC, was produced by Jack Haley Jr. and directed by Marty Pasetta.[2] Comedian and talk show emcee Johnny Carson hosted the show for the fifth time. He first presided over the 51st ceremony held in 1979 and last hosted the 54th ceremony held in 1982.[3] Nine days earlier, in a ceremony held at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California, on March 31, the Academy Scientific and Technical Awards were presented by hosts Joan Collins and Arnold Schwarzenegger.[4]

Terms of Endearment won five awards, including Best Picture.[5] Other winners included Fanny and Alexander and The Right Stuff with four awards, Tender Mercies with two awards, and Boys and Girls, Flamenco at 5:15, Flashdance, He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin', Sundae in New York, The Year of Living Dangerously, and Yentl with one. The telecast garnered 42.1 million viewers in the United States.

Winners and nominees[edit]

The nominees for the 56th Academy Awards were announced on February 16, 1984, by Academy president Gene Allen and actor Mickey Rooney.[6] Terms of Endearment earned the most nominations with eleven; The Right Stuff came in second with eight.[7] The winners were announced at the awards ceremony on April 9. James L. Brooks was the third writer-director-producer to win three Oscars for the same film.[8] With four wins, Fanny and Alexander became the most awarded foreign language film in Academy Award history at the time.[9][a] Linda Hunt is the only person to win an Oscar for playing a character of the opposite sex.[11] Best Original Song co-winner Irene Cara became the first black woman to win an Oscar in a non-acting category.[12]


James L. Brooks in 2007
James L. Brooks, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture winner
Robert Duvall in 2014
Robert Duvall, Best Actor winner
Shirley MacLaine in 1960
Shirley MacLaine, Best Actress winner
Jack Nicholson in 2001
Jack Nicholson, Best Supporting Actor winner
Linda Hunt in 2015
Linda Hunt, Best Supporting Actress winner
Bill Conti in 2008
Bill Conti, Best Original Score winner
Michael Legrand in 2015
Michel Legrand, Best Original Song Score co-winner
Giorgio Moroder in 2007
Giorgio Moroder, Best Original Song co-winner

Winners are listed first, highlighted in boldface and indicated with a double dagger (‡).[13]

Honorary Academy Award[edit]

  • Hal Roach – "In recognition of his unparalleled record of distinguished contributions to the motion picture art form."[14]

Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award[edit]

The award recognizes individuals whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the motion picture industry.[15]

Special Achievement Academy Award[edit]

Films with multiple nominations and awards[edit]

Films with multiple wins
Awards Film
5 Terms of Endearment
4 Fanny and Alexander
The Right Stuff
2 Tender Mercies

Presenters and performers[edit]

The following individuals, listed in order of appearance, presented awards or performed musical numbers:[18]

Name(s) Role
Hank Simms[19] Announcer of the 56th Annual Academy Awards
Gene Allen (AMPAS President) Gave opening remarks welcoming guests to the awards ceremony
Timothy Hutton
Mary Tyler Moore
Presenters of the award for Best Supporting Actor
Kevin Bacon
Daryl Hannah
Presenters of the award for Best Sound Effects Editing
Jane Alexander
Michael Caine
Presenters of the Best Animated Short Film and Best Live Action Short Film
Joan Collins
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Presenters of the segment of the Academy Scientific and Technical Awards
Robert Wise Presenter of the award for Best Film Editing
Christie Brinkley
Michael Keaton
Presenters of the award for Best Sound
Anthony Franciosa
Joanna Pacuła
Presenters of the award for Best Cinematography
John Gavin
Jack Valenti
Presenters of the award for Best Foreign Language Film
Holly Palance
Jack Palance
Presenters of the awards for Best Documentary Short Subject and Best Documentary Feature
Tommy Chong
Cheech Marin
Presenters of the award for Best Visual Effects
Tommy Tune
Presenters of the award for Best Costume Design
Ricardo Montalbán
Jane Powell
Presenters of the award for Best Art Direction
Jennifer Beals
Matthew Broderick
Presenters of the award for Best Original Song
Ray Bolger
Gene Kelly
Presenters of the award for Best Original Score
Neil Diamond Presenter of the award for Best Adapted Score
Dyan Cannon
Gene Hackman
Presenters of the award for Best Supporting Actress
Mel Gibson
Sissy Spacek
Presenters of the awards for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen and Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium
Frank Sinatra Presenter of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to M. J. Frankovich
Richard Attenborough Presenter of the award for Best Director
Jackie Cooper
George McFarland
Presenters of the Honorary Award to Hal Roach
Dolly Parton
Sylvester Stallone
Presenters of the award for Best Actor
Rock Hudson
Liza Minnelli
Presenters of the award for Best Actress
Frank Capra Presenter of the award for Best Picture
Name Role Performed
Quincy Jones Musical arranger
Irene Cara
National Dance Institute
Performers "Flashdance... What a Feeling" from Flashdance
Herb Alpert
Lani Hall
Performers "Maniac" from Flashdance
Mac Davis Performer "Over You" from Tender Mercies
Donna Summer Performer "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" from Yentl
Jennifer Holliday Performer "The Way He Makes Me Feel" from Yentl
Sammy Davis Jr.
Liza Minnelli
Performers "There's No Business Like Show Business"

Ceremony information[edit]

Johnny Carson in 1970
Johnny Carson hosted the 56th Academy Awards.

In September 1983, the Academy hired film producer Jack Haley Jr. to produce the telecast for the third time.[20] "We are excited to have Jack Haley Jr. back on the Academy Awards program this year," said AMPAS President Gene Allen in a press release announcing the selection. "We know that his outstanding talents will ensure an innovative and entertaining approach to the presentation of the Oscar."[21] That same month, it was announced that comedian and The Tonight Show Starring host Johnny Carson would preside over emceeing duties for the 1984 ceremony. Allen explained the decision to hire Carson, saying, "In past years, Johnny has been a vital element in the ever-increasing success and popularity of the Oscar presentations. We are extremely pleased that we will be able to draw once again on his wit and charisma to host this special entertainment event."[22]

Several other people were involved with the production of the ceremony. Musician Quincy Jones served as musical director for the ceremony, where he conducted an overture performed by the orchestra at the beginning of the show.[23] Former child actress Shirley Temple made a special appearance at the beginning of the telecast to discuss her memories of the 7th ceremony in 1935, where she received the Academy Juvenile Award.[24] Singers Sammy Davis Jr. and Liza Minnelli performed "There's No Business Like Show Business" at the conclusion of the telecast.[25] Marty Pasetta served as director for the telecast.[2] Notably, this was the first Oscars ceremony where the voting rules were announced at the end of the telecast as opposed to the beginning.[25]

Box office performance of Best Picture nominees[edit]

At the time of the nominations announcement on February 16, the combined gross of the five Best Picture nominees at the US box office was $151 million.[26] Terms of Endearment was the highest earner among the Best Picture nominees, with $72.9 million in domestic box office receipts. The film was followed by The Big Chill ($52.5 million), The Right Stuff ($15.7 million), Tender Mercies ($8.44 million), and The Dresser ($562,623).[26]

Critical reviews[edit]

Columnist Jerry Coffey from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram wrote, "Nothing that goes on during an Oscarcast is worth the tedium dumbly endured by the ever-gullible audience for moviedom's annual spasm of gross self-indulgence."[27] Austin American-Statesman film critic Patrick Taggart commented, "By now after a week after the fact, it is a matter of record that Monday's Academy Awards show was without the dullest ever." He added, "The Oscar went to the predictable choice in every case, and not only were there no surprises among the awards, there weren't even any of those deliciously embarrassing moments that make live television what it is."[28] Television critic Howard Rosenberg of the Los Angeles Times noted, "Be honest. This was not one of your more electrifying Academy Awards telecasts. The three hours and 40 minutes passed as swiftly as Barry Lyndon." He also said, "And the tradition of squeezing nearly all of the major, most glamorous awards into the last half hour again proved mistaken, ill conceived, and just plain dumb."[29]

Other media outlets received the broadcast more positively. Television columnist John J. O'Connor of The New York Times wrote, "The tone of the proceedings was set and maintained by a spiritedly genial Mr. Carson." He also added that Carson was able to "provide with eternally boyish grace his typical comedy mix."[30] The Baltimore Sun film critic Stephen Hunter quipped, "The show, one of the crispest and most swiftly-paced in recent years, enjoyed its greatest asset in the return of Johnny Carson to the role of master of ceremonies. Mr. Carson was in top form."[31] Mike Duffy of the Detroit Free Press wrote, "Johnny Carson, once again the invaluable host, added some much needed spice with well-timed zingers. And I especially enjoyed Jack Nicholson's impersonation of a Blues Brother behind those black be-bopper shades."[32]

Ratings and reception[edit]

The American telecast on ABC drew in an average of 42.1 million people over the length of the entire ceremony, which was a 21% decrease from the previous year's ceremony.[33] Moreover, the show drew lower Nielsen ratings compared to the previous ceremony, with 30.3% of households watching with a 50% share.[34] Nevertheless, the ceremony presentation received four nominations at the 36th Primetime Emmys in August 1984.[35] The following month, the ceremony won one of those nominations for Outstanding Art Direction for a Variety Program (Roy Christopher).[36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and Parasite (2019) have since equaled this record with four wins apiece.[10]


  1. ^ Holden 1993, p. 622
  2. ^ a b Osborne 1999, p. 341
  3. ^ Steinberg, David (January 30, 2009). "The Gold Standard". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on April 4, 2020. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  4. ^ "Past Scientific & Technical Awards Ceremonies". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on February 13, 2014. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
  5. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (April 10, 1984). "'Terms' Wins Best Picture; Duvall and Miss MacLaine Honored". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 29, 2020. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
  6. ^ "Oscar Nominations Are Due". Baytown Sun. February 16, 1984. p. 2-A. Archived from the original on August 13, 2021. Retrieved July 12, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (February 17, 1984). "'Endearment' Tops Oscar Nominations". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 1, 2017. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
  8. ^ Jones 1999, p. 250
  9. ^ Kinn & Piazza 2002, p. 237
  10. ^ Nilles, Billy (February 9, 2020). "All the History Made at the 2020 Oscars". E!. Archived from the original on November 16, 2020. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  11. ^ Wiley & Bona 1996, p. 1145
  12. ^ Scott, Mike (February 25, 2019). "It Was a Big Night for 'Green Book'; It Was a Bigger One for the N.O. Film Industry". The Times-Picayune. Archived from the original on July 12, 2021. Retrieved April 25, 2021.
  13. ^ "The 56th Academy Awards (1984) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on November 11, 2014. Retrieved October 9, 2011.
  14. ^ "Academy Awards Acceptance Speech Database". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on June 29, 2020. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
  15. ^ MacMinn, Aleene (January 14, 1993). "Morning Report: Movies". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 7, 2014. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
  16. ^ "Hal Roach to Receive Oscar for Life's Work". The New York Times. February 16, 1984. Archived from the original on July 29, 2021. Retrieved November 15, 2020.
  17. ^ "The Oscar Winners for 1984". The Philadelphia Inquirer. April 10, 1984. p. 7A. Archived from the original on August 13, 2021. Retrieved March 23, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  18. ^ Wiley & Bona 1996, p. 578
  19. ^ Terrance 2013, p. 14
  20. ^ Anderson, George (September 20, 1984). "Triangle Tattler: 'Cats', 'Dreamgirls,' '42nd Street' to Tour". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 24.
  21. ^ "Jack Haley Jr. to Produce the 56th Academy Awards Show". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. September 12, 1983. p. 1. Archived from the original on July 29, 2021. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  22. ^ "People: Here's Johnny Once Again on Oscar Show". Akron Beacon Journal. September 11, 1983. p. 2.
  23. ^ Shull, Richard K. (April 10, 1984). "Oscars Not So Endearing". The Indianapolis News. p. 15.
  24. ^ Wiley & Bona 1996, p. 639
  25. ^ a b Wiley & Bona 1996, p. 641
  26. ^ a b "1983 Academy Award Nominations and Winner for Best Picture". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on June 14, 2014. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  27. ^ Coffey, Jerry (April 11, 1984). "Gullible Viewers Hooked Again By Tedious Academy Awards". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. p. 7D. Archived from the original on August 13, 2021. Retrieved August 26, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  28. ^ Taggart, Patrick (April 15, 1984). "Unrewarding: Oscar Show's Bright Spots Few and Far Between". Austin American-Statesman. p. 221. Archived from the original on August 13, 2021. Retrieved May 28, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  29. ^ Rosenberg, Howard (April 11, 1984). "It Was Not an Endearing Oscarcast". Los Angeles Times. p. F9.
  30. ^ O'Connor, John J. (April 11, 1984). "Oscar Program: Long, But Different". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 19, 2021. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  31. ^ Hunter, Stephen (April 10, 1984). "'Endearment' Wins Oscars as Best Picture". The Baltimore Sun. pp. A8. Archived from the original on August 13, 2021. Retrieved November 19, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  32. ^ Duffy, Mike (April 11, 1984). "Sure They Drag, but The Oscars Are Always Fun". Detroit Free Press. p. 9D. Archived from the original on August 13, 2021. Retrieved July 28, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  33. ^ Kissell, Rick (February 27, 2012). "Crystal, social media fuel Oscar ratings". Variety. Archived from the original on September 26, 2013. Retrieved April 26, 2012.
  34. ^ "Nielsen Ratings". The Philadelphia Inquirer. April 18, 1984. pp. E12.
  35. ^ "The 56th Annual Academy Awards–Emmy Awards, Nominations and Wins". Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on March 3, 2021. Retrieved November 16, 2020.
  36. ^ Margulies, Lee (September 19, 1984). "First-Round Emmys Presented: Moyers' 'Walk,' J.F.K. Special Honored". Los Angeles Times. p. I10. Archived from the original on August 13, 2021. Retrieved May 23, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.


External links[edit]

Official websites
Other resources